The case concerns a user who shared a post from Punjabi online media platform Global Punjab TV with accompanying text claiming that the RSS and prime minister Narendra Modi are threatening the Sikhs with genocide.
The accompanying text ended with a claim that Sikhs in India should be on high alert and that Sikh regiments in the army have warned prime minister Modi of their willingness to die to protect the Sikh farmers and their land in Punjab.
The Global Punjab TV post the user shared in November last year is a 17-minute interview with professor Manjit Singh. In the video post, Global Punjab TV included the caption “RSS is the new threat. Ram Naam Satya Hai. The BJP moved towards extremism.”
The board said the media company also included an accompanying text with the following lines: “New Threat. Ram Naam Satya Hai! The BJP has moved towards extremism. Scholars directly challenge Modi!”
In the accompanying text, the user stated that the CIA designated the RSS a “fanatic Hindu terrorist organization” and that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was once its president. The user writes that the RSS is threatening to kill Sikhs and repeat the “deadly saga” of 1984 when Hindu mobs massacred and burned Sikh men, women and children. They go on to state that “The RSS used the death phrase ‘Ram naam sat hai’.” The user then says that prime minister Modi himself is formulating the threat of “Genocide of the Sikhs” on advice of the RSS President, Mohan Bhagwat.
The post was viewed fewer than 500 times and taken down after a single report. Facebook removed the content for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations. After the user submitted their appeal to the board, Facebook identified the removal of this post as an enforcement error and restored the content.
The board as part of the appeal, the user indicated to the board that the post was not threatening or criminal and that the comment simply repeated the video’s substance and reflected its tone.
According to the appeal, the user wondered why the video still remained on Facebook if there was an issue with the content. The user also complained about Facebook restricting their ability to post. The user has also suggested in the appeal that Facebook should take down content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards and only restrict accounts when users engage in threatening, criminal or misleading activities.
In a response to ET’s queries on whether the board got any other user appeals or appeals referred by Facebook linked to the farmer protests in India, the board said it cannot comment on cases till they are selected and announced.
The board said it likely to take a decision on the other Indian case soon.
In the other case referred by Facebook, a user posted a photo in a Facebook group depicting a man in leather armour holding a sheathed sword in his right hand. The photo had a text overlay in Hindi that discusses drawing a sword from its scabbard in response to ‘infidels’ criticising the prophet. The accompanying text in English included hashtags calling French president Emmanuel Macron ‘the devil’ and calling for the boycott of French products.
Facebook had removed the content for violating its policy on violence and incitement and stated in its referral to the board that it considered the case to be significant because the content could convey a ‘veiled threat’ with a specific reference to an individual. Facebook also referred to heightened tensions in France at the time when the user posted the content.